Tuesday 12 December 2017

#340 The Ivy House

At 6:45pm, I carried my shoes downstairs to the ground floor and placed them on the doormat. I hung my coat on the rack and proceeded through to the kitchen. My landlord had made soup, which she served with bread and pâté. Her cousin, who lived in the room next to mine, came downstairs and her friend had arrived too.

We listened to a recording of some medieval Christmas hymns while my landlord made introductions, serving her soup and cutting a few slices of bread as she did so. The women briefly discussed the recent Jerusalem declaration and some other current topics. The conversation turned to the manners of young people. I had been eating my soup in characteristic silence when my landlord turned to me. "Dan, do you think teenagers are inconsiderate and is it the parents' fault or is it society?"

I grinned and said that I agreed many teenagers had yet to learn how to be more considerate, adding that I was sure the parents had done their best but of course they had some responsibility, as did society at large. I noted that there had been a general decline in family values. This last observation gained some agreement from the table, who then seemed content to move the discussion on, rather than elaborating on the causes of the decline.

After soup, the landlord's cousin departed. My landlord put on a long grey shawl and her large black beret. She then led us out to the car and drove us through the slushy roads surrounding the park. After taking one or two wrong turns, we arrived at The Ivy House, where a large folk group were performing carols.

We shuffled into the back of the room, exchanging no more than the occasional whisper while marveling at the performances, two of which impressed me particularly. My landlord commented on the history of the tunes and the origins of specific lyrics.

The evening alternated between solo performers and the audience singing en masse. I knew none of the carols, save three. Two of which were to non-traditional tunes. The last was Silent Night, which was printed in German. I did my best with it. Being not hardcore participants in the folk group and seeing as Mary-Louise had to meet a friend, we did not stay long. For ten or so songs perhaps. Then a young woman of lesser talent announced that she was going to sing Santa Baby. A grey shawl and beret rapidly flew past me towards the doors. It was time for us to leave.

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